Current Goals: November

Things in life rarely go according to plan but I do believe it’s important to make goals for yourself.  However little or grand, short term or long term, they bring a certain sense of perspective and motivation.

Here are a few on my mind:

Read through my promotions emails/newsletters  

Ever since Gmail started to automatically separate emails by category, I feel like there’s a serious chunk of emails (10,147 to be exact) I’m missing out on.  There are so many great websites out there that offer valuable advice and guidelines on various projects I’m trying to start.  Whether it’s tricks to maximize SEO tags, cute packaging ideas, or blogger burnout woes, there is a wealth of information I have been ignoring.

Seriously stop buying yarn

Danger Zone

 

I need to keep walking when I see that cute holiday display and plush merino on sale.  In fact, it is best to RUN!

 One new post every week

This might seem like ages in the blogging world, but I juggle a full-time 10hr-ish job, grocery shopping, a social life, and now this blog!  Setting small goals that are more reachable and realistic create clearer focus and a calmer mind.

 

What are some small and not-so-small goals that you are focused on right now?

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Metallic

My comfort zone color palette may be soft pastels and cozy neutrals, but I actually love metallics.  Especially when worked into knits, I think the contrast of the yarn’s softness and the hard edges of metals make for an eye-catching combination.

Antonio Berardi Pre-Fall

Weaving with a pop of gold from All Roads

Whether it’s a metallic dye treatment, or a piles of metal hardware connected to sweater knits, it is a feature I would love to explore more in the future.

Esther Paleologos creates knit art from various metal wires all from a domestic knitting machine.

This week, I found a bold metallic blue yarn deep in the archives of the Ita Vero yarn stash.  I thought the brightness and futuristic element of the color would pair surprisingly well with the worn-in denim look yarn I had been saving for a special project.   The “Mercury Cowl” is an ombre metallic textured knit cowl made from those two yarns.  The soft drape and simple silhouette will be a stylish addition to any fall/winter wardrobe.

Mercury Cowl – available for sale in the store

Ita Vero Knits on Etsy

Conversations with Jésabelle

It is so easy to make a chaotic mess when working on a big knitting project.  Supplies, notes, and yarns are strewn all over the place, tangling up together.  I just find it so difficult to be organized when I am working on something creative.

I stumbled upon Jésabelle’s shop Otterburn PQ the other day.  She sells these clever little knitting bags to hold your yarn so that you can knit anywhere you go.  The bags come in various fabrics and are designed to slip over your wrist.

What inspired you to begin a business?

I’ve always sewed, with my mom usually and I would make clothing and all sorts of stuff. I made so much at one point that I figured I had to start selling some so I could get the space and then the money to make some more !

What do you think is the key to a successful Etsy store?

I think that the key to a successful Etsy shop is caring for it. You have to be committed and always try to make it better. It shows when the owner takes care of there shop. New articles, great profile story, good pictures, etc.

How did it feel to make your first sale?

The first sale feels amazing ! It really is crazy. You think then that everything is possible. You also think : I hope they don’t realize I don’t know what I’m doing…
At first, the shop was just for fun, to see if it would work. Then it started to be a real job. I’m so thankful for every sale I make. I’m so lucky to be doing what I like.

Are there any other Etsy stores that you love to follow or often browse?

I love Thimble and Accorn.
She has a great style, simple but great pictures and obviously super nice women’s clothing.

In the description, many of the designs are based off your great-grandmother’s version. How else has she been an inspiration to this business and in your life? Do you come from a family of crafters?

My whole family sews. But my mom is the one that inspires me and helps me the most. I couldn’t do it without her. She showed me how to use a sewing machine and made me redo a lot of stuff back in the days… Today, we work well together and she is the best « employee » ever ! She rocks !

I love the muted shades of grey and denim blues of the bags. How did you come up with this selection of colors and natural materials?

The fabrics I use for my Knitting Bags are for me classics. You really can’t go wrong with Denim, Linen or blue and white Stripes…
Plus, I like that the yarn you are using is the star. That said, I’m planning to make some limited edition bags with busy print fabrics just for fun.

What kind of future do you see for your store? Do you think you will be adding other types accessories or expanding sales outsides of Etsy?

I already have knitting bags in a couple of stores locally and one in New York soon…
In the future, I will be adding other versions of the bags, other accessories. My mind is full, I just need more time… More time !

Holiday DIY

‘Tis the season for DIYs.  Whether you are looking for that perfect gift or you have some extra time over the holiday break, these fun projects make use of yarn in creative ways.

 1.  Yarn Backdrop

Dramatic, but simple to create.  Using gradient yarns adds to the bold visual of this wall piece.

2. Pom Pom Wreath

Don’t you just hate it when that lush green wreath hangs dried and brown after the holidays?  This pom pom version is sustainable and super cute.

3. Glitter Twine Ball

A great idea for a dinner centerpiece or as a tree ornament.  Everything looks better with a little sparkle for the holidays.

Conversations with Emily

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily from the Etsy store Nothing But String this week.

Nothing But String carries fun hand-knit trompe-l’œil mary-jane socks and owl gloves among other creations.  The items are bright, cheerful, and showcase Emily’s incredible skills.

How did you learn to knit and crochet?

I originally learned to crochet from my Italian grandmother. I was about 7 when she first started teaching me. She was a master crocheter that made handmade dresses, skirts, jackets and sweaters for her clients. This was a good 60 years before the internet so her client base were the folks that lived in town with her. Word traveled fast about the wonderful work that she did.

As far as knitting goes I’m totally self taught. As a teenager my mom couldn’t afford all the cool sweaters that I wanted, but she could afford the yarn, so I learned how to knit my own sweaters. This was in the early to mid 70’s (I’m showing my age here) when it was really uncool to knit or crochet, so I kept it to myself, but I had some of the best sweaters going.

What inspired you to begin a business?

I had actually opened my Etsy account in May of 2008. One week before Christmas I was laid off from work. I started applying for a new job right away, but January, February, and March are the worst times of the year to go job hunting. I was getting pretty discouraged, when I remembered my Etsy account. I figured well it couldn’t hurt to start selling some stuff, maybe I’ll make a little money. Well one thing led to another, and I never did get another job. Etsy became my full time job, and I’ve never looked back since.

What do you think is the biggest difference between designing for men and for women?

The biggest thing for me is color. I’m a very bright and colorful person (as you can see from my shop). I find it exceeding difficult to stick to the more traditional male colors, black, grey, brown etc etc. I’ve resorted to asking my husband if he’ll wear a certain color and I go from there.

Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?

Inspiration is a funny thing for me. Things just seem to pop into my head. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, and I’ll have to write it down before I forget it. My problem is that I’ve got too many ideas and things that I want to do and not enough time to do them all.

What has been the most technically challenging piece or design that you have knit?

Several years ago I made a knitted block blanket with over 100 blocks of unique knitting stitches. No 2 blocks had the same stitch, and it took me over a year to complete it. When I was done I gave it as a wedding present to my favorite cousin.

What do you think is the key to a successful Etsy store?

The key to a successful Etsy store is 3 fold: great pictures, titles and tags that get you found in Etsy search, and adding new items to your shop constantly. Never ever stop creating and designing. I can’t tell you how many duds I’ve had over the years. You try something, if it doesn’t work, try try again. Don’t give up because something doesn’t sell, go back to the drawing board and try again.

How did it feel to make your first sale?

My first sale was amazing. I actually did a little dance around the house. It showed me that I could do it, and that people actually liked my designs. I still get that same feeling every time I hear the cha-ching sound from my Etsy app telling me I made a sale.

Any advice for those looking to start their own crafts-based business?

Be prepared to put in a lot of hours and learn a lot of things that have nothing to do with your craft. It isn’t a 9-5 job. I work my shop everyday from 8AM to after midnight most nights. I’ve had to learn about SEO, how to take better pictures, how to write relevant titles and tags, and descriptions that tell the buyer everything they’ll need to know about the product. You’ll also need to become a shipping manager, supply coordinator, and bookkeeper.

Are there any other Etsy stores that you love to follow or often browse?

Subrosa is my all time favorite crochet shop. Her designs and use of color is amazing.

Pixiebell is my all time favorite knit shop. This shop is run by a husband and wife team that are just phenomenal. The amount of product that they manage to put out is unbelievable. Some day that’s going to be me.

All images via Nothing But String

Nothing But String on Etsy

Ita Vero on Etsy

Phat Knits

I love a cozy chunky knit sweater, and they seem like a trend that is here to stay.  Thicker yarns create much texture and dimension, but Rotterdam-based artist Bauke Knottnerus has taken it to another level.

The threads are knit together using large scale needles operated by two people.

These works are often in cartoon-like proportions and set up in interior spaces.

More of Knottnerus’ work can be seen on his official site.